Saturday, 28 June 2008

EIFF: A Film With Me In It- Review by Emma Lennox

Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Writer: Mark Doherty
Running Time: 88 mins
Screening: 29 June, 19:00 Cineworld

In the early 90s 'dark comedy' became a genre all of its own. It encompassed most Brit flicks like Shallow Grave, The Young Poisoner's Handbook (both 1995) to off beat American indies with a cavalier attitude to death such as Reservoir Dogs (1992) and American Beauty (1999). Yet there followed a spate of attempts by newbie filmmakers which were neither serious enough to be called simply 'dark' nor funny enough to be acclaimed 'comedy'. So well worn is the term, that it's with great journalistic hesitancy that this reviewer describes A Film With Me In It as a superb dark comedy.

Written by and starring Mark Doherty, the plot is kept to bare minimum of requirements; an out of work actor (Mark) who is down on his luck, lives in a crumbling Dublin apartment with soon to be ex-girlfriend, Sally. He has a disabled brother, David, (Doherty's brother in real life, stand up comedian David O'Doherty,) a horrible landlord (Keith Allen) and a shambolic friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran). It starts as a humorous struggling artist's tale of poverty, rejection and endearing naivete, and it turns into a twisted and farcical story of unbelievable mishap. Unlike most dark comedies, the comedy momentum isn't slowed down by the body count, but gets increasingly hysterical as it rises.

Doherty's performance plays up to his suitably hang dog features, and Moran works on the persona of drunk bohemian as seen in various characters including Bernard in TV series, Black Books. Moran's film career has been a little ill fitting as the industry tries to fit a peg shaped comedian into some unfunny square films, but here Moran's role plays to his strengths of the philosophic but embittered neerdowell character.

As Mark and Pierce are both rejects of the harsh movie business, the narrative has a knowing wit about it, with laughable insights into the industry and contrived plots. The set ups and pay offs are all successfully handled by director Ian Fitzgibbon, and one suspects the casting of Shallow Grave's Keith Allen for cadaver duties is a sly wink at the British hit. A Film with Me in it is an economically told story which laughs in the face of misfortune and at best recalls those darkest of funnies; the Ealing comedy.

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